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H.865

AN ACT RELATING TO NONDISCRIMINATION

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  1 V.S.A. § 144 is added to read:

§ 144.  GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION

The term “gender identity or expression” means an individual’s actual or perceived gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 961(6) is amended to read:

§ 961.  Employers

It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer:

* * *

(6)  To discriminate against an employee on account of race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national origin.

Sec. 3.  3 V.S.A. § 963(1) is amended to read:

§ 963.  Membership; employees’ rights

An employee organization entering into an agreement shall not:

(1)  Discriminate against a person seeking or holding membership therein on account of race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national origin.

Sec. 4.  3 V.S.A. § 1001(a) is amended to read:

§ 1001.  Grievances; applicants and excluded personnel

(a)  Persons who are applicants for state employment in the classified service and classified employees in their initial probationary period and any extension or extensions thereof may appeal to the state labor relations board if they believe themselves discriminated against on account of their race, color, creed, religion, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or national origin.

Sec. 5.  3 V.S.A. § 1013(9) is amended to read:

§ 1013.  Subjects for bargaining

All matters relating to the relationship between the employer and employees are subject to collective bargaining, to the extent those matters are not prescribed or controlled by law, including:

* * *

(9)  Rules for personnel administration of employees provided the rules are not discriminatory in regard to an applicant’s race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, religion, or disability.

Sec. 6.  3 V.S.A. § 1026(6) is amended to read:

§ 1026.  Employers

It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer:

* * *

(6)  To discriminate against an employee on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, religion, or disability.

Sec. 7.  3 V.S.A. § 1028(1) is amended to read:

§ 1028.  Membership; employee rights

An employee organization entering into an agreement shall not:

(1)  Discriminate against a member or applicant for membership on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, religion, or disability.

Sec. 8.  3 V.S.A. § 1041(a) is amended to read:

§ 1041.  Grievances; applicants and excluded personnel

(a)  An applicant for employment in a position included in the bargaining unit and employees who are in the initial or extended probationary period may appeal to the board if they believe they were discriminated against on account of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, national origin, religion, or disability.

Sec. 9.  8 V.S.A. § 4724(7) is amended to read:

§ 4724.  Unfair methods of competition or unfair or

              deceptive acts or practices defined

The following are hereby defined as unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the business of insurance:

* * *

(7)  Unfair discrimination; arbitrary underwriting action. 

* * *

(B)  Making or permitting unfair discrimination against an applicant or an insured, on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or marital status of the applicant or insured, with regard to:

(i)  Underwriting standards and practices or eligibility requirements; or

(ii)  Rates; however, nothing in this subdivision shall prevent any person who contracts to insure another from setting rates for such insurance in accordance with reasonable classifications based on relevant actuarial data or actual cost experience in accordance with section 4656 of this title.

(C)(i)  Inquiring or investigating, directly or indirectly as to an applicant’s, an insured’s or a beneficiary’s sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression in an application for insurance coverage, or in an investigation conducted by an insurer, reinsurer, or insurance support organization in connection with an application for such coverage, or using information about gender, marital status, medical history, occupation, residential living arrangements, beneficiaries, zip codes, or other territorial designations to determine sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression;

(ii)  Using sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or beneficiary designation in the underwriting process or in the determination of insurability;

* * *

(D)  Making or permitting any unfair discrimination against any individual by conditioning insurance rates, the provision or renewal of insurance coverage, or other conditions of insurance based on medical information, including the results of genetic testing, where there is not a relationship between the medical information and the cost of the insurance risk that the insurer would assume by insuring the proposed insured.  In demonstrating the relationship, the insurer can rely on actual or reasonably anticipated experience.  As used in this subdivision, “genetic testing” shall be defined as the term is defined in section subdivision 9331(7) of Title 18.

* * *

Sec. 10.  8 V.S.A. § 10403 is amended to read:

§ 10403.  PROHIBITION ON DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SEX,

           MARITAL STATUS, RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, NATIONAL  

           ORIGIN, AGE, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY

           OR EXPRESSION, OR HANDICAPPING CONDITION

(a)  No financial institution shall discriminate against any applicant for credit services on the basis of the sex, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or handicapping condition of the applicant, provided the applicant has the legal capacity to contract.

* * *

Sec. 11.  9 V.S.A. § 2362 is amended to read:

§ 2362.  Prohibition on discrimination based on sex,

              sexual orientation, gender identity or

              expression, marital status, race, color, religion,

              national origin, age, or handicapping condition

No seller shall discriminate against any buyer or prospective buyer who desires to establish a retail installment contract because of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or handicapping condition of the buyer.

Sec. 12.  9 V.S.A. § 2410 is amended to read:

§ 2410.  Prohibition on discrimination based on sex,

            sexual orientation, gender identity or  

            expression, marital status, race, color, religion,

            national origin, age, or handicapping condition

No seller shall discriminate against any buyer or prospective buyer who desires to establish a retail installment contract or retail charge agreement because of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or handicapping condition of the buyer.

Sec. 13.  9 V.S.A. § 2488 is amended to read:

§ 2488.  Prohibition on discrimination based on sex,

              sexual orientation, gender identity or

  expression, marital status, race, color, religion,

  national origin, age, Or handicapping condition

No person shall discriminate against any lessee or prospective lessee who has entered into an agricultural finance lease, or who desires to enter into an agricultural finance lease, because of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, race, color, religion, national origin, age, or handicapping condition of the lessee.

Sec. 14.  9 V.S.A. § 4502 is amended to read:

§ 4502.  Public accommodations

(a)  An owner or operator of a place of public accommodation or an agent or employee of such owner or operator shall not, because of the race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex or, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression of any person,:

(1)  refuse, withhold from, or deny to that person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of the place of public accommodation; or

(2)  make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement with respect to the advantages, facilities, and privileges of the place of public accommodation, that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination.

* * *

(c)  No public accommodation shall discriminate against any individual because that individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this section or because that individual made a charge, testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this section.  No public accommodation shall coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by this section.

(d)  No individual with a disability shall be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefit of the services, facilities, goods, privileges, advantages, benefits, or accommodations, or be subjected to discrimination by any place of public accommodation on the basis of his or her disability as follows:

* * *

(4)  No public accommodation shall discriminate against any individual because that individual has opposed any act or practice made unlawful by this section or because that individual made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing under this section.  No public accommodation shall coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of or on account of his or her having exercised or enjoyed or on account of his or her having aided or encouraged any other individual in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by this section.

(5)  A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when those modifications are necessary to offer goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

* * *

(e)(f)  It is a violation of this section for a gas station or other facility which sells gasoline or other motor vehicle fuel for sale to the public to fail to comply with the provisions of 9 V.S.A. § section 4110a of this title.

(f)(g)  It is a violation of this section for a public accommodation to fail to comply with the provisions or rules pertaining to public buildings pursuant to chapter 4 of Title 21 chapter 174 of Title 20.

(g)(h)  This chapter shall not apply to:

(1)  Special education claims and issues covered by federal and state special education laws, regulations and procedures, pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1404 et seq. and 16 V.S.A. chapter 101.

(2)  An insurer underwriting risks, classifying risks or administering risks that are based on or are not inconsistent with 8 V.S.A. §§ 4724 and 4084 or other applicable state laws.

(h)(i)  This section shall not be construed to require a public accommodation to permit an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, facilities, goods, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of that public accommodation when that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.  For the purposes of this subsection, “direct threat” means a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services.  In determining whether an individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, a public accommodation shall make an individualized assessment based on reasonable judgment that relies on current medical knowledge or on the best available objective evidence to ascertain:

(1)  the nature, duration and severity of the risk; and

(2)  the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and

(3)  whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate the risk.

(i)(j)  Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a public accommodation from excluding a person engaged in disruptive behavior which the place of public accommodation has reason to believe is the result of alcohol or illegal drug use.

(j)(k)  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any place of public accommodation in which the mother and child would otherwise have a legal right to be.

(k)(l)  A police officer, a firefighter, or a member of a rescue squad, search and rescue squad, first response team, or ambulance corps who is accompanied by a service dog shall be permitted in any place of public accommodation, and the service dog shall be permitted to stay with its master.  For the purposes of this subsection, “service dog” means a dog owned, used, or in training by any police or fire department, rescue or first response squad, ambulance corps, or search and rescue organization for the purposes of locating criminals and lost persons, or detecting illegal substances, explosives, cadavers, accelerants, or school or correctional facility contraband.

Sec. 15.  9 V.S.A. § 4503(a) is amended to read:

§ 4503.  Unfair housing practices

(a)  It shall be unlawful for any person:

(1)  To refuse to sell or rent, or refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling or other real estate to any person because of the race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

(2)  To discriminate against, or to harass any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental of a dwelling or other real estate, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection therewith, because of the race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

(3)  To make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling or other real estate that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

(4)  To represent to any person because of the race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance, that any dwelling or other real estate is not available for inspection, sale or rental when the dwelling or real estate is in fact so available.

* * *

(6)  To discriminate against any person in the making or purchasing of loans or providing other financial assistance for real estate related transactions or in the selling, brokering, or appraising of residential real property, because of the race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

(7)  To engage in blockbusting practices, for profit, which may include inducing or attempting to induce a person to sell or rent a dwelling by representations regarding the entry into the neighborhood of a person or persons of a particular race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person intends to occupy a dwelling with one or more minor children, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

(8)  To deny any person access to or membership or participation in any multiple listing service, real estate brokers’ organization, or other service, organization or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or to discriminate against any person in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation, on account of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, religious creed, color, national origin, or handicap of a person, or because a person is a recipient of public assistance.

* * *

(11)  To fail to comply with provisions or rules pertaining to covered multifamily dwellings, as defined in section 271 of Title 21, pursuant to chapter 4 of Title 21 subdivision 2900(4) of Title 20, and the provisions of chapter 174 of Title 20.

Sec. 16.  10 V.S.A. § 601(11) is amended to read:

§ 601.  Definitions

The following words and terms, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning, shall have the following meaning:

* * *

(11)  “Persons and families of low and moderate income” means persons and families irrespective of race, creed, national origin, sex or, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression deemed by the agency to require such assistance as is made available by this chapter on account of insufficient personal or family income, taking into consideration, without limitation, such factors as:

* * *

Sec. 17.  13 V.S.A. § 1455 is amended to read:

§ 1455.  HATE-MOTIVATED CRIMES

A person who commits, causes to be committed or attempts to commit any crime and whose conduct is maliciously motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, ancestry, age, service in the armed forces of the United States, handicap as defined by 21 V.S.A. § 495d(5), sexual orientation or gender identity or expression shall be subject to the following penalties:

* * *

Sec. 18.  16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(26) is amended to read:

§ 11.  Classifications and definitions

* * *

(26)(A)  “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

(B)  “Harassment” includes conduct which violates subdivision (A) of this subdivision (26) and constitutes one or more of the following:

* * *

(iii)  Harassment of members of other protected categories, which means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, taunts on manner of speech, and negative references to customs related to any of these protected categories.

Sec. 19.  21 V.S.A. § 495 is amended to read:

§ 495.  Unlawful employment practice

(a)  It shall be unlawful employment practice, except where a bona fide occupational qualification requires persons of a particular race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, place of birth, age, or physical or mental condition:

(1)  For any employer, employment agency, or labor organization to discriminate against any individual because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, place of birth, or age or against a qualified disabled individual;

(2)  For any person seeking employees or for any employment agency or labor organization to cause to be printed, published, or circulated any notice or advertisement relating to employment or membership indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based upon race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, place of birth, age, or disability;

(3)  For any employment agency to fail or refuse to classify properly or refer for employment or to otherwise discriminate against any individual because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, place of birth, or age or against a qualified disabled individual;

(4)  For any labor organization, because of race, color, religion ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, place of birth, or age to discriminate against any individual or against a qualified disabled individual or to limit, segregate or qualify its membership;

* * *

(e)  The provisions of this section prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression shall not be construed to prohibit or prevent any religious or denominational institution or organization, or any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised, or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, from giving preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking any action with respect to matters of employment which is calculated by the organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.

(f)  The provisions of this section prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression shall not be construed to change the definition of family or dependent in an employee benefit plan.

(g)  Notwithstanding any provision of this subchapter, an employer shall retain the right to establish and enforce nondiscriminatory and reasonable dress codes appropriate to the workplace.

Sec. 20.  21 V.S.A. § 1621 is amended to read:

§ 1621.  Unfair labor practices

(a)  It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer:

* * *

(7)  To discriminate against an employee on account of race, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, or disability.

* * *

(b)  It shall be an unfair labor practice for a labor organization or its agents:

* * *

(8)  Compulsory membership; employees’ rights.  A labor organization entering into an agreement requiring a person’s membership therein as a condition of employment by the employer shall not:

(A)  discriminate against a person seeking or holding membership therein on account of race, color, disability, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, or national origin.

(B)  penalize a member for exercising a right guaranteed by the Constitution or laws of the United States or the state of Vermont;.

(C)  cause the discharge from employment of employees who refuse membership therein because of religious beliefs.

* * *

Sec. 21.  21 V.S.A. § 1726(a)(7) is amended to read:

§ 1726.  Unfair labor practices

(a)  It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer:

* * *

(7)  To discriminate against an employee on account of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability, age, or political affiliation.

Sec. 22.  STUDENT HARASSMENT PREVENTION POLICIES

(a)  The commissioner of education shall revise the model policy on prevention of harassment of students to reference the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity” and to provide the revised model policy to each school board in Vermont on or before August 1, 2006

(b)  Notwithstanding 16 V.S.A. § 565(b) that requires each school board to adopt harassment prevention policies that are “at least as stringent as model policies developed by the commissioner,” school boards are not required to amend harassment prevention policies to reference the terms “gender expression” and “gender identity” until August 1, 2008. 



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us